What do you drink when the air conditioning goes out and it isn’t fixed for 12 days at the beginning of a Texas summer? Cheap, lighter white wine, of course.
The actual air conditioning details — three repair companies and a home warranty company that did nothing illegal but acted with such bad faith that even I was surprised — are entirely too predictable in the post-modern, “the customer is our pigeon” world we live in. So I won’t bore you with them.
What matters here is my wine drinking dilemma. Because it was a dilemma. I review 150 wines a year on the blog, so I have to drink wine every day to make sure there is enough grist for the mill. But how does one taste heavy, tannic, alcoholic red wines when it’s as hot and sticky in the house as it is outside?
With great difficulty. The only reds I drank during that period at the end of May were lower alcohol pinot noirs from Don and Sons that I got for a Twitter Tasting a couple of days after the AC went out (and more on the wines in another post). There was plenty of red wine in the house, including three or four dozen recently-arrived samples (and, because that’s how these things work, almost all of the samples that came in May were red). But most of it was from the “Let’s make this wine with high alcohol because it’s more fun that way” school of California winemaking, and I was miserable enough without drinking that kind of wine.
So what’s a wine writer to do? These wines not only fit my situation, but should help anyone who needs hot weather wine advice or some porch-sipping suggestions:
• Rene Barbier Mediterranean White NV ($5, purchased, 11.5%): Regular visitors here know how much I like this Spanish blend, and it didn ?t let me down. The low alcohol really made a difference. I could drink three or four glasses without schvitzing even more than I already was.
• Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): Solid if unspectacular New Zealand grocery store-style white with lots of grapefruit and not much else. But I wasn ?t looking for much else, just something to get me through the evening.
• Tavernello Vino Bianco D’Italia ($8, purchased 11.5%): An Italian white blend that wasn’t quite as well done as the Barbier, which it tasted like ? a little lemon fruit, but sweeter — despite being made with different grapes. Overpriced, though, by about one-half.
• St. James Pioneer White ($10, sample, 12.5%): Summer wine doesn’t get much better than this blend from Missouri, full of citrus and an almost oily richness. Serve this blind, and even the worst wine snob would enjoy it despite is regional pedigree.
• Da Vinci Pinot Grigio 2012 ($15, sample, 12.5%): You get what you pay for with this white from E&J Gallo — a varietally correct, if a bit fruitless and high on the mineral side, pinot grigio in the style that sells millions and millions of cases each year.